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Author Topic: Would like to have food tested, need advice.  (Read 27844 times)
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JessicaLC
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« on: April 03, 2011, 05:21:45 AM »

Hey guys! This section of the forum is something I'm totally new to, but it seems like the best place to get some guidance on this subject.

I'm making a homemade raw diet for my three cats and have come to the conclusion that I would really like to have a batch of it tested. I'm trying to search out some information on how I go about doing that, where, etc. I'm not sure of the different nutrient profiles out there, I'm sure it depends on the facility conducting the tests. I mainly want to make sure that my supplements are on the right track and that the diet has adequate levels of everything they need. I started this homemade food venture after becoming fed up with all the problems I was experiencing with commercial food, and I want to ensure that I'm doing it correctly or else there's really no point in it. I've read a little about testing and know that it can be very expensive, but I really have no idea where to even start. Any advice? Has anyone done this before?
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lesliek
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Trooper,Remy & Fragile


« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2011, 06:54:51 AM »

Have you tried using the nutrient calculater on the Alnutrin website ? Also Marta [the owner] has been helpful to others here with making adjustments to recipes.  You can also check it against the recipes in Dr Pitcairn's book which can be fed raw or cooked.
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bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2011, 07:11:07 AM »

I'm embarking on the same thing, Jessica, only my food is cooked. I contacted MidWest labs in Canada who gave me a quote. It is very pricey but I will go through with it once I have a recipe I am satisfied with. I know that if I can balance a cooked recipe, I will be OK with a raw one if I decide to go that route. For the nutrients I wanted tested, it came to about $1600. That is pretty much a complete nutritional breakdown minus a few nutrients that aren't of much concern. They have a complete AAFCo package which costs about $2600 but I'm not sure what's in it over and above what I requested. I guess that's why PFCs don't test on a regular basis.

There may be other companies that will do this for you for much less. I am also using Alnutrin and Marta has helped me a lot to figure out how to formulate my varied recipes.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
JessicaLC
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2011, 06:12:42 PM »

Thanks to both of you for the alnutrin suggestion, I can't believe I've never heard of it! Love that calculator!

bug - I went back and forth between cooked vs. raw. At first I didn't love the idea of raw, but after doing a ton of research and reading information from numerous sources I finally decided on raw. I use most of Dr. Pierson's (catinfo.org) safety suggestions like par-boiling the outside of raw meat/organs to kill any surface bacteria and I'm very careful with cleaning and cross contamination. My cats are loving it so far and it's just a wonderful feeling knowing that I have complete control over the quality of the food and that I hand picked every single ingredient. Good luck to you in your homemade cooking venture! I'd love to know how it goes. Smiley
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bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2011, 06:26:54 PM »

Will eventually get to raw. Right now I have my cats eating wet food and cooked chicken and pork as treats. Once they're used to home-cooked, I'll see if they'll do raw. I'm lucky they're even eating cooked chicken. If you do get your recipe tested, let us know how it tests out.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
GKit
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2011, 05:58:37 PM »

bug, When you talked to MidWest Labs in Canada, what sorts of things were you thinking about getting tested? I did the homemade thing for a while, and always wondered about the feasibility of getting my food tested.  Do you know if when manufacturers claim to meet the AAFCO standards if they mean they've formulated it to meet the standards, as in, they think they put everything in,  or that they've tested the finished product? I'm kind of curious, because I see calcium show up in vastly different places on the ingredient list. I always thought the ingredients were supposed to be by in order by quantity, and the order they have is really different from the amount I end up adding. For example, taurine is last on the list of the commercial food I'm using now, but in my homemade mix, I am adding more taurine (by weight) than any B vitamins.

Gypsy did really like raw food, and it seemed to make for a lovely coat and perky behaviour, but we did have a little constipation issue, at least with ground whole rabbit.
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bug
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2011, 07:37:39 AM »

I have a list I can PM you that I sent for pricing. When PFCs test, they do it against AAFCO standard percentages and amounts to make sure they meet the numbers, but I don't know that they all test, either, and just formulate to meet the numbers theoretically. They use the same information we would from Canadian or American food data. Most also don't go through animal trials -- except Hills and maybe the other vet brands. That is way more costly.

The ingredients on a can is in descending order by weight, not volume. What is in the can in terms of additional vitamins and minerals is dependent on so many things, it would be tough to figure out. I have worksheets for some commercial foods and it's still not something you could sit and compare to home made.

When I make homemade using Alnutrin, the formulation relies on the Canadian nutrient file data sheets (custom build). I haven't gone through the trouble of adding vitamins and minerals separately, though I could figure it out using the data, it would be a hell of a job balancing it out. That's why Marta Kaspar's nutrient calculator is so good. I know it is based on using Alnutrin, but by the time you buy all your vits separately, you might as well have used the premix.

Let me know if you want me to forward the quote from Midwest.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
JessicaLC
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2011, 12:50:25 PM »

I would really appreciate that bug! I would really like to do the testing one day. My vet and I got together and made my cats recipe so I feel like its safe and balanced, but I'm just one of those people that needs numbers and facts to back it up, you know?. I like the idea of alnutrin, and have emailed them a couple times. They have great customer service and I was always pleased with how quickly I got a response but ultimately decided I wanted to be in complete control of my cats diet, even down to adding each supplement individually.
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GKit
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2011, 05:55:06 PM »

JessicaLC, Can I ask what you are using to get Vitamin A and Vitamin D into your food mix? Are your kitties pretty open-minded on how the additives make the food taste?  Sometimes my girl turns her nose up at stuff, especially B-vitamin additions, which is pretty strong smelling even to my dumbed down human nose.
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petslave
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2011, 07:25:36 PM »

The commercial foods seem to come up over or undersupplemented by a lot on a regular basis, so I doubt making our own pet food is any more dangerous than feeding any of the brands out there.  One thing about adding your own supplements - do some research on the ones you will be using.  The quantity of people supplements often also don't match what is listed in them.  You can subscribe to Consumer Lab to see which ones are better:

http://www.consumerlab.com/

I may be way offbase on this, but I actually feel safer using Alnutrin now than individual supplements.  I had two cats die within a month of each other from heart/blood clot related problems after home feeding them for a year using individual supplements.  I still wonder if the taurine was somehow defective.  It wouldn't matter much to a person to get half the dose with each capsule, so I doubt anyone would ever notice if it wasn't full strength.
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JessicaLC
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2011, 04:18:54 PM »

JessicaLC, Can I ask what you are using to get Vitamin A and Vitamin D into your food mix? Are your kitties pretty open-minded on how the additives make the food taste?  Sometimes my girl turns her nose up at stuff, especially B-vitamin additions, which is pretty strong smelling even to my dumbed down human nose.

It took a few times before all three of my cats accepted the raw. At first they really just didn't understand that it was food! And I agree, I think the Vit B threw them off, because it smells funky. I mostly go by Dr. Pierson's recipe at catinfo.org with a few tweeks for my cats special needs, but I actually add a little extra Vit B than her recipe calls for since it's water soluble and I would rather have a little more than needed than not enough. I've found that if I use the b-50 or b-100 capsules, they seem to like the food a lot better because you don't have to use as many capsules to reach the right amount of mgs, you know? So instead of having to put 10 or 11 of the b-25 caps, I only have to use two or three of the b-100s. Also, they almost refuse their food unless I add chicken hearts to the batch. They must be pretty tasty, because I can tell a huge difference if I make the batch without the hearts; they act completely uninterested, but they will eventually eat it if I put some treats on top or something like that.

ETA: The Vit A is supplied by the liver. The eggs and fish oil naturally have vitamin D and the chicken and organs also have small amounts of both.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 04:24:51 PM by JessicaLC » Logged
JessicaLC
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2011, 04:30:53 PM »

The commercial foods seem to come up over or undersupplemented by a lot on a regular basis, so I doubt making our own pet food is any more dangerous than feeding any of the brands out there.  One thing about adding your own supplements - do some research on the ones you will be using.  The quantity of people supplements often also don't match what is listed in them.  You can subscribe to Consumer Lab to see which ones are better:

http://www.consumerlab.com/

I may be way offbase on this, but I actually feel safer using Alnutrin now than individual supplements.  I had two cats die within a month of each other from heart/blood clot related problems after home feeding them for a year using individual supplements.  I still wonder if the taurine was somehow defective.  It wouldn't matter much to a person to get half the dose with each capsule, so I doubt anyone would ever notice if it wasn't full strength.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your cats, that must have been really difficult. Thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out. I understand completely where you're coming from. My decision to measure my own supplements was ultimately based on the fact that after I compared the amounts of vitamins in Alnutrin to my recipe, they just didn't match up. I use more taurine and Vit E than alnutrin has, and I like that I can tweek it like that. I also try to use natural sources of those important amino acids and vitamins. I always add good quality chicken hearts and livers to their diets, but I still add enough taurine even if I made the recipe without heart. I still really like alnutrin, but I just decided that I felt more comfortable having the control because that was the whole reason why I started homemade in the first place.
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GKit
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2011, 10:06:51 PM »

petslave, I'm so sorry to hear about your kitties.  I'm glad you like the Alnutrin; I haven't tried it yet because Gypsy seems to be allergic to quite a number of things, and egg is an unknown for us.  Thanks for the link on the human supplements; scary to realize even those are not always up to snuff.  I sometimes think that the pet food industry does a good job cowing people into thinking you can't make a balanced diet at home as vs. the stuff you get at the store, because after spending the last few years reading the labels it's often amazing to me how early grain/filler/starch shows up in the ingredient list for cat foods.

I like the idea of using a higher B vitamin to reduce the quantity. Hopefully picky princess will agree.
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bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2011, 06:12:41 AM »

You can always use brewer's yeast instead of a b-vitamin supplement. Just make sure you have a breakdown of what's in the product (how much b-vits). Cat's love brewer's yeast. Because it has more than just Bs, you might need to balance out some of the other minerals, but it's no big deal.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
GKit
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2011, 05:21:05 PM »

Gypsy's allergic to yeast, but now at least I understand why yeast keeps showing up in pet foods. She does not mean to be picky, since in her opinion, field mice are just fine and perfectly nutritious.  Smiley
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